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HILTON-O’BRIEN: Parents need to fight for openness in coming school board elections

“Presenting sexualized material to children without parents even knowing about it is clearly in violation of a parent’s right to decide their children’s education.”

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Alberta’s UCP government has made some progress in putting parents back in the driver’s seat of their children’s education, but there is still a major NDP elephant in the room that needs to be addressed. 

During its term in government, the NDP passed a law that made it illegal for teachers to inform parents if a child joined a gay-straight alliance (GSA). While this was ostensibly to protect vulnerable kids from being outed to potentially unaccepting or abusive parents, the bill was put forward mostly to create a “wedge issue” against the opposition UCP. 

They argued some parents (meaning you) might abuse their kids if they came out, hence the need to outlaw telling parents. 

But children who belong to sexual minorities already had protections under Alberta law. A teacher who has reason to fear a child might be abused has an obligation to report this to child welfare. Resources are available and used where needed.

For the sake of political gamesmanship, the government saw fit to trample on the fundamental rights of parents, playing on fears of distant hypotheticals. Whatever the political merits of the issue, our children’s safety and education should not be a political game. 

Teachers are legally forbidden to tell parents if their children are attending these groups and being exposed to their sometimes-questionable materials, often at a very young age. 

Some sanctioned GSA materials contain highly sexualized – and sometimes graphic – content. The delivery of those materials can also be worrisome. Some of the rhetoric borders on creepy given these groups are provided for kids as young as five years of age. But this isn’t a debate about whether or not GSAs are a good thing or not. That should be up to parents to decide for themselves.  

Parents for Choice in Education know parental consent is key. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education their children will receive. It’s at the centre of human rights, and part of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Presenting sexualized material to children without parents even knowing about it is clearly in violation of this principle.

You may be thinking to yourself we’re using the wrong tense. The NDP were defeated, and Kenney’s UCP government was elected with a mandate to fix the problem. You’re partly right, but the issue is far from resolved. 

The NDP’s legislation forced trustees to pass policies at the school board level which had to include very specific wording that enforced secrecy between school staff and parents. The UCP government changed the law and removed that requirement, but the damage was already done. The policies at the school board level have been left in place, and almost no public, Catholic or francophone school board has since removed them.  

Children as young as five may still be exposed to heavily sexualized material in school through clubs and activities, and teachers are still not allowed to inform the parents. This isn’t provincial law anymore; school board trustees are choosing to continue this policy.

Don’t bother sending off an angry post to your MLA; they can’t solve the problem. It’s not the provincial government’s business to bully their way into dictating local school board policies. That’s what got us into this problem in the first place.  

The issue is now a local one. Your local trustees have the power to remove this policy, but so far, they’ve chosen not to. If trustees won’t change these policies, then parents need to change our local school trustees.

Part of the problem is nobody knows who the school board trustees are. Sure, we elect them every four years. But who votes for them? The last provincial election saw over a million votes cast, but fewer than 186,000 votes were cast in school board elections. That is only about four times as many votes as there are members of the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA). A tiny number of people are deciding the fate of all our children. With so few people voting, you can have a real, direct impact.  

Parents for Choice in Education is running seminars on how to be a candidate and how to campaign.  We’ll also be publicly asking which candidates support this policy of secrecy, and which ones will stand with parents for the safety of their children. We’ll be speaking out at public events.

There are a few practical things that parents can do, starting with signing PCE’s Parental Choice Is Key open letter. Parents can donate to help provide training seminars for candidates and campaign teams and conduct valuable interviews to equip voters with an understanding of where candidates stand on important issues. 

For those parents really willing to get off the bench, they can run for trustee on their local school board. Supports are available to those willing to step up.

The trustee elections this October 18th will be a battle. Well-funded special interest groups and government unions fueled by mandatory dues will use their resources to push an agenda that undermines school choice and parental authority. Only by standing together can we protect our children and elect trustees who will prioritize safety, not secrets. 

John Hilton-O’Brien is Executive Director of Parents for Choice in Education

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Steven Ruthven

    May 31, 2021 at 7:03 pm

    Isn’t it amazing the effort & time being spent on sex orientation education in the public school system? I just call it grooming, probably not for sexual interference, but grooming for the liberalized world of whatever feels good, just do it.

    The public school system would do better, for society, if it actually focused on educating students so they can function in society as free thinking people. Instead of the socialized unthinking follow blindly what you are told to do and don’t ask critical questions of those in power. Sure sounds like Marxism is alive and well from grade 1 to our universities.

    Former Russian President Nikita Khrushchev said of the West. “We will take America without firing a shot. We do not have to invade the U.S. We will destroy you from within….”

  2. J Brodeur

    May 31, 2021 at 10:57 am

    Homophobic nonsense. Love is love. If Christians can’t figure that out, that’s sad.

  3. Left Coast

    May 31, 2021 at 10:20 am

    No child is Born a same-sexer . . . there is Zero science to support the “born that way” nonsense.
    School boards & Teachers today are foisting Gender Dysphoria nonsense on 6 year olds, why you might ask?
    They are Grooming your children folks, a very rare Mental Disorder has now become an Epidemic because it is being pushed as the New Normal. A small group of LA shrinks, some were same-sexers & trannies, decided about 9 years ago that this rare Mental Disorder was now NORMAL. This is quite insane, but the world we live in today.

    “Psychologist John Money, the man many now consider to be the father of gender theory.
    Canadian parents of twin boys sought Money’s advice in 1967 after one of their sons had a botched circumcision. Money advised them that with hormones and sex-change surgery, the boy could be raised as a girl.
    But by the time Brenda was a teenager, it became clear that the plan wasn’t working. Brenda became known as a boy, David Reimer, who later was the subject of the 2000 book “As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl,” by John Colapinto. In the book, Reimer condemned the experiment and spoke of his anguish. He committed suicide in 2004.”

    60 Minutes recently ran an expose of this insanity . . . which is firmly routed in Canada’s Education System . . . one Dr. pushing the Gender nonsense was a Transgender . . . how insane is that?

    “The activists behind gender theory allow young children with no conception of sex to choose their gender despite the fact that they are too young to understand the long-term ramifications such decisions may have.

    Not only does this set of ideas fly in the face of what science tells us about sex differences; it has also led to the suffering — and even deaths — of countless young boys and girls.”

    Suicides in post op Transgenders is alarmingly high . . .

  4. Barbara

    May 31, 2021 at 10:18 am

    There’s an elcetion this fall. Start campaigning for sane candidates in your district.

  5. Woodrow George

    May 31, 2021 at 9:35 am

    Get involved, parents! Right now our school boards are being taken over by those with a left-wing/Marxist agenda.

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Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Pickup trucks are a plague on Canadian streets — Gee, did he get it wrong?

Nasty pickup-driving soccer moms rolling coal in mall parking lots are the ones killing the planet!
At least, that’s how Globe and Mail writer Marcus Gee sees it.

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Across Canada’s untamed urban frontier, when pickup truck drivers aren’t wrestling wild hogs, they’re on the road tailgating electric cars and cyclists for sport.

And the biggest polluters aren’t factories in China, India and elsewhere ceaselessly spewing smoke and chemicals into the air.

Nasty pickup-driving soccer moms rolling coal in mall parking lots are the ones killing the planet!
At least, that’s how Globe and Mail writer Marcus Gee sees it.

Thank goodness he ventured out of his urban bubble to set people straight on the devastating impact of the vile permeation of pickup trucks in North America.

Hopefully, Gee’s Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino, with a heaping topping of utter contempt, didn’t dribble down his elitist chin whilst he penned a recent snobbish attack on the character of pickup truck drivers.

It doesn’t take long for the initial surprise at the absurdity of his sanctimonious reasoning to turn into laughter.

Gee lamented that last spring – in the midst of a pandemic yet – Americans bought more pickup trucks than cars. And, if you can imagine, for years, Canadians have had the audacity to make Ford’s F-150 a best-selling vehicle.

“For heaven’s sake why? Most people no longer use pickups to haul bales of hay. They drive them to the mall to shop or the soccer field to drop off their kids. Why anyone thinks they need to do that is an abiding mystery,” anguished Gee.

“Once the vehicle of the cowboy, the contractor, and the good old boy, pickups have become the continent’s mainstream ride,” wrote Gee.

“A vehicle that started as a practical tool for hard-working people has become, for many, an obnoxious assertion of dominance and division,” wrote Gee.

What a clever ploy! Pretend you’re purchasing pickup trucks to haul things, make a living, or for safe driving in brutal weather conditions, when the real intent is to achieve dominance and create division.
Do pickup truck drivers hold super-secret meetings like the Illuminati or the Bilderberg Group to achieve this nefarious goal?

Gee referred to a survey – no, he didn’t identify it – that claimed three-quarters of pickup drivers use their trucks only once, or not at all, for hauling each year.

That would come as a shock to farmers, contractors, tradesmen, delivery companies, utility repairmen, movers, people who haul loads to the dump or the whole team’s gear to regular sports events, and a host of other pickup truck drivers.

“Buyers can drop $100,000 on luxury models, which most will spend more time polishing than loading,” he wrote.

“Even if they weren’t polluting and dangerous, the parade of pickups would be a blight on the roadscape and a finger in the eye of other drivers – a way of saying to everyone else: ‘I am bigger, badder and richer than you.”

No, Gee didn’t say what message is sent by purchasers of the $93,000 Audi e-tron Sportback or the $170,000 BMW i8 Roadster, or other expensive electric or hybrid vehicles he prefers.

Gee’s entitled to his opinion. But it evolved into a personal attack on people who drive vehicles he doesn’t like. He portrayed them as reckless bullies on the hunt for targets.

That’s inexcusable.

“In the charming practice known as rolling coal, some pickup drivers blow past cyclists and electric vehicles and deliberately spew black smoke at them,” claimed Gee.

Yup, those hordes of pickup truck drivers – even the soccer moms – spend their spare time modifying diesel engines so they can hunt down targets to spew sooty exhaust fumes on. Great fun!
Can anyone possibly be so detached from reality?

But Gee wasn’t finished flinging wild accusations: “Then there is safety. Anyone who has travelled a Canadian highway lately has been tailgated by a speeding pickup driver. Being up there in that big cab over the huge engine seems to make the drivers think they own the road; lesser vehicles be damned.”
Now that’s a fabricated, irrational fear, right up there with monsters hiding under the bed or in the closet.

And the good old boys Gee mocked still drive pickups. They’re everywhere. They’re the first to stop on the highway in frigid, stormy weather to pull vehicles that jackknifed and slid off the road out of the ditch, never expecting more than a thank you.

He’s right about farmers not using pickups to haul bales, particularly in Manitoba now. That’s because there are no bales to haul to feed the cattle they’re forced to sell because of drought and grasshoppers.
Meanwhile, many people, especially in Alberta, are using their pickup trucks to move their possessions out of the homes they’ve lost because clueless and destructive environmentalists successfully campaigned against the energy industry.

Gee was applauded by his colleague Gary Mason who tweeted: “This is a column I wish I’d written.”

These Uber boys are so sadly out of touch.

Most Canadians are fed up with condescending so-called elitists who look down on them believing they have the right to tell them how to live and what to buy.

Rev those engines, folks!

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard  lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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Opinion

WAGNER: Election of Maverick MPs would send a clear message of Western defiance

But what if – instead of business as usual – the Mavericks picked up a few Alberta seats?

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The May poll showing emerging support for the Maverick Party is good news for Alberta. The party is beginning to build its profile and may become competitive in some ridings. As time goes by, more and more Albertans will hear about the party and see it as a viable alternative worthy of their vote.

A federal election will likely occur this year (very soon, according to Brian Lilley in the Toronto Sun), and almost all of Alberta’s seats are currently safe havens for Conservative MPs. A result like 2019 where every seat except one goes Conservative will be met by a shrug in Ottawa. That’s just business as usual. 

But what if – instead of business as usual – the Mavericks picked up a few Alberta seats? A result like that would set off a firestorm. Nothing would catch the attention of people in Central Canada more abruptly than Albertans sending some so-called “separatist” MPs to Ottawa. Bloc Quebecois MPs don’t raise too many eyebrows down there. They are, after all, from Central Canada too, and share the same “progressive” values and anti-oil sentiment exhibited by most of the other parties. But sovereigntist MPs from Alberta? That would be something else altogether.

There are many good Conservative MPs from Alberta who undoubtedly do their best for their constituents. But right now, the West needs MPs who can speak out publicly without the fear of retribution by party leadership whose ambitions are always to please Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal – MPs, that is, whose only loyalty is to Alberta and the West.

From a Western regionalist perspective, a vote for the Conservatives is a vote for the status quo. Alberta needs something different now, something that offers a full-frontal challenge to Central Canada’s political elite. Electing politicians from the old-line parties just won’t do it. But electing Maverick candidates might.

The ridings most likely to show support for Maverick candidates are in rural Alberta. Ridings like Battle River—Crowfoot and Red Deer—Mountain View are unfamiliar to people in places like Toronto. But if those ridings sent Maverick MPs to Ottawa, people in Central Canada would suddenly hear about them, for all the right reasons. 

The large Wexit meetings that were held in the wake of the October 2019 federal election generated some attention down East. A prominent Toronto-based magazine, The Walrus, even produced a cover feature on Wexit with two major articles, The New Separatists and Meet the Albertans Who Want to Start Their Own Country. But as the Wexit meetings dissipated due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, and perhaps declining enthusiasm, Central Canada once again forgot about Western discontent.

Having a Maverick presence in the House of Commons would ensure Western concerns would not be forgotten or ignored. Maverick MPs would be a continual reminder that things are not okay and big changes are needed. 

It’s true that only a provincial government can hold a referendum on independence. Even with elected MPs, a federal party cannot initiate any measures that would lead to Western independence. As a result, some people question the necessity of a federal sovereigntist party. However, if a referendum on Alberta independence were held under the Clarity Act, the House of Commons would determine whether the referendum question on independence was “clear.” The presence of MPs whose only loyalty is to the West could be crucial in getting a fair judgment on that point. 

Maverick MPs would represent the West’s interests in other important matters as well, of course. We know that Quebecers believe there are advantages to sending committed sovereigntist MPs to Ottawa because they repeatedly elect candidates from the Bloc Quebecois. The West can do likewise.

If Alberta and Saskatchewan send full slates of Conservative MPs to Ottawa after the next election, no one will be surprised and Canadian politics would continue as usual. However, if Alberta – and perhaps the other Western provinces – send some Maverick MPs to Ottawa, that would convey an unmistakable message of defiance.

It would be a clear signal that the West has had enough.

Michael Wagner is a columnist for the Western Standard

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Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Help too little, too late for Manitoba farmers

Severe drought and a grasshopper invasion have left parched watering holes and destroyed crops and pastures, forcing producers to sell cattle they can’t feed at emergency auctions.

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A disaster relief program announced Thursday for drought-stricken Manitoba farmers is too little too late to save too many.

And the package, although welcomed, doesn’t address other critical problems.

Severe drought and a grasshopper invasion have left parched watering holes and destroyed crops and pastures, forcing producers to sell cattle they can’t feed at emergency auctions.

Farmers are exhausted from hauling water to thirsty animals and a prolonged fight for survival.

An exodus from the devastated industry is underway. Forage livestock commodity producers – beef, sheep, goats, buffalo and horses – are planning, in some cases, permanent exit strategies.

“This could be the end of the industry here. By the time most people are forced out, they’re not going to have enough money to go back into it,” Orval Procter, a beef producer and councillor for the R.M. of Woodlands, just north of Winnipeg, told the Western Standard.

“These announcements are wonderful but there needs to be strong dialogue provincially, federally, with all the commodity groups to figure out as best a path as we can to benefit everybody.

“This is a small drop in what we need. Not all of what we need is money. We need good planning and regulations or restrictions to add some control to the marketplace.”

Agriculture contributes $7 billion a year to Manitoba’s economy and $1 billion of that is attributed directly to livestock. 

The ripple effect of an exodus would devastate communities and businesses within them.

Manitoba’s suffering its fourth year of drought. Areas where cattle production is prevalent are hardest hit.

“Livestock producers are unique in that we’re struggling, and we have live animals that we’re dealing with. Grain producers who are struggling aren’t putting animals at risk,” said Procter.

Over the past two years with feed in short supply, farmers have had to sell one-third of their breeding stock.

But for 11 years, the resilience of economically crippled farmers and producers has been severely tested by a string of blows including BSE (mad cow disease), flooding, drought, economic recessions, and the impact of COVID-19.

“Because we’ve had so many issues, nobody has the financial resources, and nobody knows where we can get enough feed. It’s dire,” said Procter.

Through it all, they’ve mostly had to go it alone because there was “minimal recognition” by the government of the crushing economic damage to the industry, said Procter. 

He helped organize a July 21 rally to call for immediate federal and provincial government help. Nearly 100 producers showed up. Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development Minister Ralph Eichler didn’t attend for health reasons and didn’t send anyone from the agriculture department in his place.

Federal agriculture minister Marie-Claude Bibeau visited drought-stricken areas Thursday and announced federal/provincial relief programs.

Through the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation’s Hay Disaster Benefit, insured livestock feed producers will get an extra $44 per tonne to offset replacement feed and transportation costs. Changes to the AgriInsurance program allow some crops damaged by drought to be sold as feed.

“What they’re really announcing is a top-up to the insurance programs to make sure there’s enough money to increase benefits to producers for hay shortages based on the extra cost. That price is typically set almost on a national scale, so when you get in situations like we have, where the price is triple what it was last year and they pay you out on last year’s costs, it doesn’t let you buy much,” said Procter.

He’s concerned about the cattle.

“There’s about 450,000 cows in Manitoba. Most producers are being affected by this,” said Procter.

“One of the biggest things that scares me, and nobody’s talking about it, there’s obviously going to be a huge influx of cattle into the market. Where are these cattle going to go? Are we going to have days with 5,000 head showing up an auction mart with three days selling? How many days before they’re moved? Who’s going to want them?” 

Every bit of hay that comes into the system is desperately needed. Eight bales saves one cow.

But pleas for more Crown land and wildlife management areas to be opened for haying and grazing, appear futile.

“The department has let land out, but they’ve not let all of it out. Areas still aren’t open and that’s to no one’s benefit,” said Procter.

“There’s no engagement. We asked for a contact to meet with, it’s been three weeks and we haven’t been given that. We got a roundabout response that it probably wasn’t going to happen.”

Meanwhile, skyrocketing feed costs and negative sales returns have resulted in producers receiving up to $400 less per animal than the cost of raising it.

“We haven’t even been in a break-even position for some time. We get 19% of the final cost, feed lots get 19%, and the rest is taken up by slaughter plants and retail,” said Procter.

“I’ve got receipts from 2002 – $1.87 a pound for a 400-500-pound steer was pretty common. I got the same price a month ago.” 

Producers are demanding a “government-driven investigation into the system that prices meat products, from the farmer’s gate to the consumer’s plate.”

The price producers receive isn’t reflected in what consumers pay for meat products.

“What’s hamburger worth? That’s your cheapest cut,” said Procter.

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard 
lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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